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Democrats accused of showering billions of Federal tax dollars on 'woke' pet projects

House Democrats have been accused of abusing the newly reinstated earmarks funding process to fund 'woke' projects in their Congressional districts.

A Fox News investigation found Democrats have requested millions of dollars in funding for pet progressive projects in their districts as part of a lavish Federal spending program. 

Earmarks have traditionally been used to pay for much-needed infrastructure projects.

But the latest funding requests include $4million for a science center in Florida, $407,000 for Native American arthritis research in Oklahoma City, $436,000 for a yoga program in New Jersey and $1million for 'cultural placemaking' to celebrate black history in LA.

A decade-long ban has just been overturned, allowing Democratic and Republican lawmakers to insert funding projects into appropriation bills.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey told Fox News that Democrats were engaging in 'incredibly abusive, wasteful' spending on 'radical left wing causes'. 

'The indefensible return of earmarks means congressional Democrats will shower billions of taxpayer dollars on all kinds of radical left wing causes,' the Pennsylvania Senator said 

Toomey says they are increasingly being used by Democrats to fund their own brand of creeping wokeism.

He said earmarks were not subject to the usual rigorous vetting process, and had historically been used to pay for 'disastrous' projects.

Sen. Pat Toomey has slammed the return of earmarks, saying they are to blame for billions of dollars in wasteful spending

Toomey said earmarks were responsible for more than $200m going towards the 'bridge to nowhere' in Alaska

Nancy Pelosi has welcomed their return, but Toomey said they will be used as 'currency' to buy votes

Earmarks and pork-barrel politics

House Congressional members can request funding for specific projects in their districts that bypass the usual competitive fund allocation process. 

These are typically inserted into discretionary  spending appropriations bills. 

The term 'earmark' comes from livestock, where domestic animals had their ears branded so their owners could recognize them. 

Pork barrel funding  - another term derived from the farm, and also synonymous with lavish district funding - also refers to ruling parties channeling public money to their districts.

Forbes reported 3309 had been proposed by 324 members of Congress with a total spend of $9.7 billion.  

House Democrats have requested some 2338 earmarks valued at $4.94 billion, while Republicans requested 971 earmarks for $4.7 billion, Forbes reported.    

The earmarks process was banned in 2011 due to systemic corruption, but members of both parties have recently agreed to allow it to return. 

Toomey said the the so-called 'bridge to nowhere' project was a prime example of wasteful earmark spending.

In 2005, earmarks of nearly $450 million were proposed to help finance two proposed bridges in Alaska. 

They included a bridge connecting the small city of Ketchikan to its airport on nearby Gravina island - at a cost of $223 million. 

Those earmarks provoked howls of outrage - and were eventually canned by then-governor Sarah Palin. 

'This is how we got the bridge to nowhere, this is how we spent taxpayer money building an indoor tropical rainforest in Iowa that shockingly had to close,' Toomey fumed. 

'It is all about letting a member of congress pick just what's at the top of his or her wish list,' he said.

'Earmarks... they become the currency by which the leadership buys votes for unrelated legislation.

'The currency that's going to be flowing to buy the votes is earmarks,' he told Fox.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has welcomed the return of earmarks after the decade-long ban.

At an event in San Francisco on Thursday, '[Earmarks are] for the good of the community and we encourage people to have as much community support for a project as possible, and so I'm very proud of it.'

Toomey slammed Pelosi, saying they become the 'currency by which the leadership buys votes for unrelated legislation, which is terrible'. 

Charlie Crist, who announced this week he is running for governor, is seeking $4 million to renovate and repair the building previously used for the Pinellas County Science Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., a 1950s era building that is currently shuttered. The building's return to its original purpose would be combined with a water treatment mission.

A number of lawmakers put in for such programs as bridge and highway expansions, body cameras for police, and funds for local community health centers.

Rep. Donald Payne requested $436,100 for a 'meditation and restorative yoga program' in his New Jersey district.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) is seeking $1,750,000 for the 'Japan Institute Building Renovation Project' to expand activities for the public at the Portland Japanese Garden

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) is seeking $250,000 to expand the Michelle Obama Library in Long Beach

Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut is seeking $350,000 for 'recreational facilities renewal' at St. Martin de Porres Academy in New Haven

Rep. Richie Neal (D-Mass.) has his hands on the nation's purse-strings as chairman of the powerful Ways & Means Committee. But he's also put in spending requests, including $1million for the Forest Park Horticultural Plan. 

The master plan 'offers an opportunity to restore the Walker Grandstand and surrounding amenities ensuring facilities and grounds can once again be utilized by the residents of Springfield,' he writes.

Almost all of the requests deal with the health and welfare of the living, but one by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) is for dealing with the dead. She is seeking $1.1 million to buy technology equipment for the Medical Examiner's office in Spokane, allowing it to 'modernize equipment.'

One thing she wants is a Computerized Tomography (CT) scanner 'to support regional Medical Examiner and Coroner forensic death investigations.'

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the powerful Appropriations Committee chair, stands a better chance than many of getting her projects funded. She wants $350,000 for 'recreational facilities renewal' at St. Martin de Porres Academy. 'These recreational facilities include building a safer basketball court away from the parking lot where there are some potential safety issues and building a field suitable for students to play various sports including soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey,' she writes.

Rep. Adrianno Espaillat (D-N.Y.) is asking for $1.5 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center at the City College of New York, named after his longtime predecessor in Congress.

Rangel himself sought funds for the center named for himself while he was a sitting member of Congress. He was censured by the House in part for his fund-raising efforts related to the Rangel center.

According to a request by Espaillat, who represents Harlem, 'The Charles B. Rangel Center for Infrastructure Workforce Training will train for construction and operations across multiple infrastructures – transport, energy, communications, water and wastewater, food, health in built environments – with emphasis on digital skills for advanced forms of project management, system supervisory control and operations management.'

Says his request: 'Experiential and simulation-based curriculum developed with industry stakeholders, extensive lab and remote-learning use of computers, smart phones, digital tools and apps. Coverage of GIS, BIM, SCADA, sensors and sensor arrays, working with data, AI and robotics. Community-based recruitment of trainees. Multi-media learning to facilitate the success of nonacademic learners.'

Many lawmakers' requests are for a few hundred thousand dollars per project. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) is seeking $83million for improvements to US-275 east of Norfolk, from Jct N-57 to Wisner, Nebraska.

Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) is seeking $22million for a water project in Modesto consisting of an irrigation pipeline.

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who represents upstate New York, is seeking $180,000 to buy defibrillator units for the Newark-Wayne Community Hospital. He wants $140,000 for body cams for police to wear in Syracuse.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) is seeking $407,000 for a Native American and Rural Arthritis Research Center in Oklahoma City. His proposal says Native Americans have the highest prevalence of arthritis and the lowest access to care. He says it is a good use of taxpayer funds because it would address 'significant health disparities.'

Fox News reported on a $250,000 request by Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) to expand the Michelle Obama Library in her state. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) is seeking $1,750,000 for the 'Japan Institute Building Renovation Project' to expand activities for the public at the Portland Japanese Garden.

Fox News cited other examples of wasteful spending.    

They included a $1million from by Rep. Karen Bass for a 'cultural placemaking' initiative to celebrate the history and culture of Black Los Angeles.

And $1million to build a 55,000-square-foot space for Black enterprise, art, history, performance and culture In Wisconsin by Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan. 

President Joe Biden is proposing a tax hike to pay for a 'human infrastructure' bill that will cost high-earning Americans in more than a dozen states upwards of 50 per cent on their long-term capital gains and other qualified dividends.

Nearly doubling the federal capital gains rate could discourage those making more than $1 million from investing in the stock market as it's increased from 23.8 per cent to 39.6 per cent, which would lower the GDP by 0.1 per cent and reduce federal revenue by around $124 billion over 10 years, according to the Tax Foundation.

The current per state capital gains average is 29 per cent, while the new rate Biden is proposing would make the average 48 per cent.

The White House has emphasized that this adjustment would only affect about 500,000 Americans.

 The president is instead hiking rates for the top 0.3 percent of earners, is almost doubling capital gains rates for those pulling in $1 million a year and raising corporate tax rates.

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